View from the Proverbial Canoe.

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Picture yourself as the one in the canoe. You don’t have all the information but the confused water speaks for itself.
How worried would you be? Just getting to shore safely would be a common response.

This picture represents crossroads we often face in business:

  • Lack of all the information,
  • Things look murky on the surface
  • Action is needed to recover.
  • Those watching have frozen looks of fear.

If you are at these crossroads, here are some tips on handling fear in your team:

  • Validate the current downside risk: Unless it is death or destruction, dispell the gravity of the danger.
  • Validate the unknowns: Eliminate low probability unknowns. Reinforce the most probable unknowns.
  • Simplify the problem statement in one sentence: Dumb down the visuals to non threatening simple problems.
  • Focusing on the best case scenario will ease feelings of fear. Your team will move in a positive direction. Thoughts have tremendous power to visualise the universe, so make sure you create a good one!

My View from the Canoe.

Firstly, I would reach out to the team:

  • Get other people involved, all for one is a great attitude.
  • Create Space for thinking, thinking may be what you need the most…
  • Hear a wide variety of views, but keep communication simple
  • Bond together if possible and share the emotion, ease the reactions.

I love this picture. In the office, find a round table:

Harness the fear and do the impossible 

Fear means growth.

  • Fear tells us we are moving outside our comfort zone.
  • The environment is unfamiliar, we are taking on new challenges and learning new skills.

What’s the best outcome that may seem impossible?

  • If we are imagining the future and creating scenarios in our heads (because essentially that’s what it is), why wouldn’t we rather think about the most awesome thing that could occur?
  • Talk about the best case scenario instead of the worst.
  • Why are the negative scenarios called being realistic? 
  • Why are positive scenarios pie-in-the-sky?

Either are equally likely to happen, wouldn’t you agree?

Use the energy of the team to do the impossible

  • Keep the energy positive.
  • There will be some stress.
  • The effect of stress on learning show some stress is helpful, or even necessary.
  • When there is a catastrophic fall in outcomes, too much stress is debilitating. You have to be the “stress buffer” for the team to prevent this from occurring.

Look Big and Bold

In most cases, the thing we fear is never as bad as we think it will be. When trying to make a decision to do something new, the vision to see a broader perspective can be clouded by fear. Everything unfamiliar can be automatically scary.

Fear is part of life, and does not need to be eliminated.

An important lesson is this: we do not need to eliminate fear from our mindset. We can welcome it, we can cope with it and we can proceed in spite of it!

The best decisions in life are rarely the easiest ones. Or, rather, they should feel easy within, but often come with a level of fear. Obsessing about worst-case scenarios shifts our perspective to find “evidence” of this negativity. It becomes a self fulfilling prophecy.

“Self doubt is a cancer” is a repeating thought to stay the course.

Read my other blogs on Doing the Impossible.

Published by

Bruce Loxton

Bruce Loxton is often described as an “engineers, engineer”. His career has included mechanical, mining, electrical and chemical engineering. Combine his passion for data and automation with business sales and delivery teams for a great-digitized process. However, Bruce is a thinker on design, strategy and working in teams. He has achieved “impossible” projects over his career by targeting the big and the bold. Innovation seems to come naturally to the very structured thought process on problem solving and value. Bruce was Non-Executive Chairman of Qinetiq Australia for 6 years till 2017. Qinetiq is Global Defence Technology provider with a market cap of $1Bn & listed (QQ.L). He is an Alumnus of: Harvard Business School, USC in LA, and IMD in Lausanne. He is a former Council Member, Chem. Eng Foundation, Uni of Sydney.

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